Sumario: May 26, 2005: MEPs worry about Russia's democracy but stress need for more cooperation (Strasbourg)
The European Parliament called for further integration of Russia into the world economy and closer involvement of the country in European security, while voicing concern over human rights and the development of democracy.
In a resolution adopted by 488 votes in favour, 20 votes against and 63 abstentions, MEPs warned of the "apparent weakening of Russia's commitment to democracy, the market economy and the protection of human rights". They highlighted reports of discrimination and antisemitism, restrictions on the media and the use of the judicial system for political goals. However, they also acknowledged Russia's potential as a strategic partner, not only in the economic and trade areas, but also in fighting international terrorism, trafficking in drugs, arms and people, and addressing environmental and nuclear hazards.
Mentioning Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Georgia, MEPs said they rejected "foreign policies aimed at creating spheres of influence" and asked Russia to see the spread of democracy in neighbouring countries and the development of stronger ties to the EU in these countries not as a threat but as "a chance to renew political and economic cooperation with those countries".
Parliament remains deeply concerned about the "continuing failure to end lawlessness in Chechnya" and called for a political solution. It urged the Council again to be prepared to give assistance to a peaceful and constructive dialogue.
On the other hand, MEPs welcomed the outcome of the latest EU-Russia summit, at which road maps were adopted for the creation of the "four common spaces" - of freedom, security and justice, of external security, of research, education and culture and a common economic space.
Parliament underlined the importance of Russia's support for the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol. MEPs stressed the importance of cooperation in the field of external security. They welcomed plans for the EU and Russia to cooperate in future in resolving regional conflicts, such as those in Transdnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. They also called for further cooperation in the field of maritime safety, especially on a ban for single-hull tankers in the Baltic and Black Seas. And they urged the EU to offer Russia help in the dismantling of its nuclear arsenal, while calling on Russia to contribute to worldwide non-proliferation and disarmament, especially concerning Iran. They also advocated the opening of negotiations with Russia on a free trade area as soon as it has joined the WTO. However, MEPs urged Russia to end discriminatory rail tariffs favouring Russian ports in the Baltic.
MEPs called for "solidarity and unity within the EU between the old and the new member states" whenever Russia tries to divide them.
Other points raised in the resolution were a call for Russia to ratify the border agreements with Estonia and Latvia, to delete from its social security legislation a reference that Russian troops can be based and come to harm in Baltic states, and for an agreement between LUKOIL and Lithuania on compensations in the case of oil spills which may damage the Curonian Split.
Parliament also says that the Yukos case represents a fundamental test of Russia's respect for the rule of law, property rights, transparency and a fair and open market for investors.
Marjory van den Broeke
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